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Looking Beyond a Church’s ‘Statement of Faith’

We Believe 3 Screenshot Bethel Church WebsiteDo you want to know if a church or organization is part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)?

Finding the answer may not be as easy as looking at the church’s statement of faith. Many NAR groups have adopted fairly standard statements of faith that do not mention their NAR teachings. To find out what a church really believes you have to dig deeper.

To see what I mean, check out the statement of faith of HRock Church (formerly Harvest Rock Church) in Pasadena, California. This church, led by the influential apostle Ché Ahn, is one of the most prominent NAR churches in the nation. Yet nothing found in the statement of faith indicates their belief in the present-day offices of apostle and prophet. But browse the website and you’ll find a page titled “Core Values.” That’s one place you’ll find references to their NAR beliefs, including the following statements about apostles and prophets:

Apostles

Because the Church is founded on apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20, 4:11), we believe and embrace the office and ministry of the apostle. HRC is part of an apostolic network called Harvest International Ministry.

Prophets
We welcome and honor prophets and the prophetic ministry (Matt. 10:41). We are called to be a prophetic people and are committed to do only what we see our Father say and do (John 5:19).

Probably the most influential NAR church in the United States is Bethel Church in Redding, California. Again, its formal statement of faith makes no mention of its NAR beliefs. But click on the “About Us” page and you’ll find these telling words: “We embrace the biblical government of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.”

And the NAR organization Generals International, led by the prophet Cindy Jacobs, has adopted an innocuous statement of faith. But visit almost any other page on the organization’s website and you’ll  be met with multiple “prophetic words” from NAR prophets and NAR teachings, like the “Seven Mountains of Societal Influence” (a.k.a. the “Seven Mountain Mandate”).

The lesson is: when trying to find out what a church really believes, don’t stop with its statement of faith. Dig deeper.

 

 

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14 Responses to “Looking Beyond a Church’s ‘Statement of Faith’”

  1. kadri liisa Says:

     It reminds to me when i have in march 15 tried to ask more clarification from Glory of zion about this Glenn Beck thing but they did not answered anything new to me. It seems to me that this is not important to them that Glenn Beck is mormon.
    Concerning this then i did some googleing and discovered one article which was analyzing faith statement of NAR  quote from Peter Wagner:
    “A whole new generation of believers in the Second Apostolic Age is not nearly as interested in the fine points and details of theology as past generations have been.”
    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/1/17/152230/031
    For me it is important to know what ppl believes then it is easier to relate to them and maybe not go somewhere if i have discovered that their faith statements does not suit to me.

  2. Arnold Smith Says:

    I agree with you Holly. I think the same thing can be said of any church. Just look at the Mormon’s and Jehova Witness’. When you talk to them they sound just like us but when you dig deeper they are NOT. The NAR movement is getting so far away from “sound doctrine” it is amazing to me how long a real Christian can remain in it. I was in a church that started out Pentecostal but became NAR very slowly. It can be hard to see at first but we have to help people come out of this very false movement. Remember that the scriptures tell us that in the last days there would be those who “would not put up with sound doctrine”.

    Blessings

  3. Lillie White Says:

    I researched 1000 churches and noticed the same thing.  They all have ‘traditional’ statements of faith just as a decoy and bait, but they are totally emergent and apostate.  There are several tell tale signs on their website that give them away, and all of them exhibit these as well.  One key word about nar/dominionism is ‘transformation’ ‘kingdom building’ ‘being His hands and feet’ and much more.  An internet search of this will yield more clues and becoming familiar with it over time. 

    God bless!

  4. Riles Says:

    I advise people to listen to the teachings, since the statements of faith don’t mean anything any more.

  5. M.K. Says:

    When dh and I were ex’ed out of that church I’ve mentioned back in the late 90’s, I did some serious thinking. The church we had been in was deceitful. As Holly’s article points out, they too hid the real beliefs behind a good looking statement of faith.

    One of the things they hid was a mixture of trinitarian and oneness Pentecostalism. They felt they were transitioning from oneness, but didn’t feel strongly enough to renounce it publicly.

    They were moving from Word of Faith teachings towards the NAR stuff courtesy C Peter Wagner and Mike Bickle’s IHOP with a little Kansas City Prophets thrown in. I forgot to mention a serious envy of the Toronto Airport Vineyard experience which our head pastor worked very hard at bringing to his congregation.

    The final straw for us was Replacement Theology, with it’s usual boatload of antisemitism and the fact that the head pastor lied from the pulpit about another pastor.

    Later I would sing “Little Shop, Little Shop of Heresies” to the tune of Little Shop of Horrors to cheer me up BUT

    I realized, I was the one who walked into this mess, and if I didn’t want a repeat I’d have to develop a few discernment skills PARTICULARLY when searching for a new church.

    I called it my “Quick and Dirty Discernment Tool for church hunting” in honor of my son’s hobby (later career) in programming. (Programmers have some “quick and dirty” rules they follow to make their lives simpler and put code together quickly). I don’t code, that is all I know but it stuck with me as a little point of humour in some very dark days.

    First on my list was THE TRINITY
    Keeping in mind that my ex church hid that nicely despite the statement of faith, I interviewed pastors and youth pastors to tell me in THEIR words, what they believed about God being a Trinity, and how important that was to their theology. Kept me out of Oneness fellowships. A lot of WOF and oneness occur together.

    Second was GENESIS
    Did they believe in a literal 6 day creation out of nothing by God (Since the Bible says in different places it was God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit this doubles as a Trinity test.

    A literal fall of the only 2 humans in existence, namely Adam and Eve that means we all fell in Adam and need a Redeemer born of a virgin, thru the action of God.  No human father, yet fully Human and fully God. Sinless and perfect. The ONLY remedy for the sin that we all partake of by being yet unconceived thru Adam and Eve’s line.

    In Genesis still, I asked do they believe in a literal worldwide flood that wiped out everything air breathing that wasn’t on the Ark. That tells me whether they are sound on believing the Bible literally. Since God gave a rainbow as a covenant sign that He would never again send a Flood like that, this is another test to see how far down the liberal road the seminary pulled the pastors. Either God was lying (which cannot be) or He told the truth because the local flood that many a seminary professor teaches would involve God lying about that Flood since many a local flood has happened since Noa’s day and the Rainbow promise. I believe God.

    THIRD A stop in the New Testament to make sure we all are on the same page about Jesus– vigin born, sinless, ONLY WAY TO GOD! Resurrected really and truly, Ascended, now sits on His Throne in Heavon till He comes again for His church. Since Jesus Himself says He is the ONLY way to God and nobody gets to God except thru HIM that tells me where the pastors stand on other relligions being ways to God as some are now teaching. I can tolerate other people having different beliefs but I must never deny that JESUS CHRIST is the ONLY way to God.

    FOURTH: To make sure I wasn’t in a place where Id’ have to defend the Bible itself. IN A CHURCH? I ask how they percieve Revelation.

    This was to weed out a common growning problem in my ex church where we were moving away from a standard Pre Mill rapture, 7 year Tribulation followed by a literal real Millenium bith Christ ruling 1000 years. Our ex chuch began to teach that as allegory, and that the millenial reign of Christ couldn’t begin till the Church cleaned up the world by …..wait for it, BRINGING IT UNDER THE DOMINION!!! of the church. At that point Jesus would come. I know this was dead wrong, but till I was out and the fog on my brain cleared, I couldn’t tell it was wrong because it relied on WORKS added TO Christ’s work.

    I ended up calling the Genesis / Jesus / Revelation bits “the Bookends of HISTORY! Not original to me I know but another little mnemonic to help me remember what to ask.

    THEN I would ask if they “enjoyed the Vineyard kind of meetings”. One otherwise good Pentescostal church pastor said no, but the youth pastor enthused about it endlessly. Poor guy didn’t realize why my eyes opened wide in horror and I backed away politely telling him we planned on talking to a few churches still. Graceful and truthful exit. Not ready at that time to take on changing another person’s point of view.

    That was my discernment tool and it helped us find a good church.

    One more thing I’d add:

    Take  a little look around. Check the church library!! If you see a Ton of Word of Faith, or NAR stuff or nowadays the Purpose Led/Driven stuff and Emergent authors. No?

    Go to a few meetings to make sure.

    I know that sounds like a lot but I put it all on a little yellow sticky like this:
    Trinity?
    Bookends of History: and Jesus in between
    Messing with the “infection”? (which is the plague of apostasy as I called it then and now.)

    That was it. I’d take that in with me and ask, let them talk. Get specific.
    LOOK at the library
    Try out some meetings.

    Parting thoughts: Don’t be too quick to sign up as a member. We took over a year, and I think a decision like that should take time. If you get pressured, smile and back away, reminding them you are still “waiting on God” to tell where you belong.

    It’s OK to NEVER sign a membership. In fact, pastors change, churches change, and you don’t want to be loyal to those who once were loyal to God and are no longer.

    Pressure is NOT a good sign even if it’s friendly seeming. Some cults employ a technique called “love bombing”. Relationships take time, and time is the only way to build trust, and only then can you open up to loving and being loved in that assembly.

    Give it time. Don’t accept falso easy “love bombing”. Wait and see if it’s truthful. Smile a lot, listen a lot and PRAY HARDEST OF ALL.

    Hope that is a help

  6. kadri liisa Says:

    Wow MK it is long explanation.
    It reminded to me when i checked out different churches out in my home town.
    There was small oneness pentacostalism church where my friend got converted to and stsrted to convert me so i went to some youth events asked their church name in english -united pentacostal church international – and put it into google and then also checked from some books about new religious movements in national library.
    Trinity is of course one to check. Divinity of Jesus and Bible as word of God and those things are too important to check.
    In past and even in now i check what is said about offices in church as i have felt that pastoral model,pastor centred church type is bit enough or not really helping me fully  to grow.

  7. John Says:

    I really struggle with the way some churches seem to insist that their own interpretation of specific areas of Scripture are of sufficient importance to be included in their formal statement of faith.

    I know this doesn’t directly relate to the NAR, but I remember seeing a couple of churches that made me double-take when I read their web sites. The first started out with all the things I would expect – covering the three persons of the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus etc – but then proclaimed a belief that Jesus would return for his people in a pre-tribulation rapture. Since so many people have other eschatological viewpoints this seemed overly exclusive.

    Another church’s statement of faith incorporated the viewpoint that no Christian should drink alcohol or be in any way associated with alcohol. Curiously the verses they used to support this (Eph 5:18 and Prov 20:1) speak against drunkenness rather than drinking alcohol in moderation.

    This latter church is probably about as far removed from the NAR as it’s possible to be, it just shows that stretching Scripture isn’t confined to the hyper-charismatic crowd.

  8. Arnold Smith Says:

    In response to John: At least with the two churches you gave example of you know where they are and they are not hiding their views. They also seem to be saying, “if you don’t agree with our statement then stay away”. I personally believe in the pre-trib rapture but I wouldn’t exclude other believers for believing different. However, in these last days one’s eschatology can really affect how they see most other scriptures as well. You are right about the alcohol issue. At least you know to stay away from them.

    On another note I would like to add is there was and still is a prominent T.V. preacher who brags how he has never tasted alcohol in his life. This is sickening to me to hear him speak highly of himself on this matter since he was publicly exposed as cheating on his wife. All I can say is WOW! Even though he has repented of his adulteries he shouldn’t be bragging about something that isn’t even a sin issue. Getting drunk is sin, not tasting wine or a beer.

    Blessings

  9. Scott Lawrence Says:

    How can you not believe in the 5 offices of ministers according to Eph 4:11-12 and He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers?  Not in the sense of the NAR’s beliefs of new revelation for these offices.  But this verse is clear that these offices are for the perfecting of the saints??  No?

  10. Debbie Says:

    We need to be like the early Bereans now more than ever.  For certain, the principle applies when reading Scripture; but also as this article says, we need to dig deeper than just the surface (statements of faith, for example) and pray for wisdom from God in separating the scriptural teachings from the false teachings. Blessings to you!

  11. Racz Says:

    One thing I noticed in these church Faith Statements is. You can be of any denomination or any ( organization)and still be concidered a part of the Body of Christ. So my question was, can you be a Freemason and be concidered a part of the body? Or maybe a Mormon. The list goes on. Of course the answer is no, but the statement opens the door to the unity that they seek.

  12. B A Blumenthal Says:

    Eph 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”

    I see this as saying the apostles of Jesus are placed first, then the prophets of the OT who wrote about him. They form the foundation of our faith, just as it says… nothing hidden here. No other prophets are mentioned until Revelation. I don’t think there can be anymore apostles than the ones who followed the Lord Jesus. I know they chose a 12th to replace Judas, but it seems God called Paul directly, so it will be interesting to see who that 12th will be .. sitting on their thrones and judging the 12 tribes of Israel.   

  13. Suzanne Says:

    M.K. thank you for your detailed outline of who to discern if a church is biblical. Four years ago my husband and I moved to a new country. We chose a church based on its statement of faith. We were there for 3 years. It was a small church. Call me naive but I never thought to ask any of the questions you point out. The short version of my story is that it turned out that the pastor does not believe in the Genesis account. This was upsetting to me but I didn’t act on it. Over time I began to investigate some of the teachers he mentioned. Believe it or not, I was not acquainted with people such as Mike Bickle, Kris Vallaton, or Bill Johnsons. I decided it was time to do some homework. 
    Then one of the leaders invited a heretic of the worst sort to a “conference.” I was shocked. I have never cried and prayed over something as much as I did about this heretic coming to our little country. It caused quite a stir in the whole community. It broke my heart but we had to leave this little church.
    I’ve had a good solid year or so to think about how we allowed ourselves to get caught up in a church that so clearly embraces error. The thing is that it was not clear. The truth about what was believed came out in tiny drips…until this heretic was brought in.
    It is sad but true that a statement of faith is simply no longer enough to really know what the pastors believe.

  14. Fran Says:

    Hi Holly,

    Well I just found the Pastor’s name – Jerry Dirman on a NAR list. Guess I won’t be visiting Sunday!

    Being from Biola, do you know any good churches in OC?

    Fran

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